Day Five - 28 January 2008
The Road to Sauraha, Nepal

We piled into a large van and got on the crazy highway from Kathmandu to Sauraha. While not being amazed at the steep ravine drops on the roadside into the river and the boldness of our driver in passing other vehicles, I tried to take pictures like this out the window.

These were the guardrails helping keep us from pitching into the ravines.

The road was incredibly windy in places and kept doubling back on itself, often crossing over the river.

This actually got the focus right while in the van in motion.

It seems Nepal still is a big believer in the family farm. That's probably most of what lined the entire road on this journey.

And suddenly, the hills fall away and there are the Himalayas.

We were moving pretty fast through the countryside...

...and I made several attempts at the perfect shot.

Mountains like that make it easier.

High contrast.

One of the most common Nepali crops we saw in this area... cauliflower?

Almost like a slightly more fertile New Mexico.

And with those power lines, this could just about be California.

I'm going to take this picture as the opportunity to tell you just how queasy I felt in that van trying to focus enough to get still shots out the window. I thought you should know.

I think the rocks are holding the roof in place.

There really are a lot of power and phone lines in Nepal.

Perhaps my favorite shot from the van.

It was a long ride. I was a little bored. More pictures for you.

For much of the ride, the river just kept getting bigger and bigger.

This one also reminds me of New Mexico. A pretty diverse environment, overall.

If only New Mexico had any rivers this powerful...

We stopped for lunch at a roadside cafe, which had these steps down to the river.

This was our van.

Admittedly not the most flattering picture of the family folks, but this was our lunch. Note to family folks: I'm not sure how this picture got here. Really.

Emily was also probably unsure why I took this one.

A surprising amount of litter in Nepal, given how pristine everything else seemed. But it's part of that whole modernization/history issue I keep trying to contrast in photographs.

On the road again... the river's getting a little ornery.

I'm not sure these pictures do justice to the elevation changes across this road and all over the country. I think Nepal has the greatest elevation variation of any nation in the world, which is of course helped by having the tallest point in the world within the borders. Given the relatively small land area of the country, though, this is a pretty impressive feat.

Roadside living quarters.

Actually one of the wider parts of the road.

That was actually a pretty neat bridge structure behind the palmish tree.

More bridge, less tree.

I really like these guardrails.

A remarkable number of animals were unpenned and unchained within a few feet of the freeway. As magically as the safety of all the other driving, none of them ever seemed to get hurt.

Tata, a leading brand of truck in Nepal and India. Most of the trucks were more colorfully decorated, but we were stopped right where I could take this shot.

Beautiful temples like this come up out of nowhere on the roadsides throughout the country.

Water buffalo!

This is where we stayed in Sauraha, a resort town on the edge of Chitwan National Park.

One of the views from our balcony.

Said balcony.

Our room was no less amazing. Emily unpacks in the foreground.

Out the window.

Bicycling was built into a very small part of the trip's itinerary, thus becoming the only part I had to sit out. (I've never learned to ride a bike.) So while I had to take a jeep over, I was able to get a picture of everyone else flying in on the bikes.

The second wave.

I really wanted to climb this tree.

Sauraha has many features, including the Elephant Breeding Center. If you don't like elephants, you can pretty much skip to Day Six at this point.

We showed up right around dinner time. One of the only things cuter than a baby elephant is a baby elephant eating.

Older elephants aren't bad either.

This was dinner... these little pouches of rice and vitamins wrapped in grass. The elephants tended to try to eat as little of the grass as possible and go for the good stuff on the inside. A little like some people eat Oreos... if eating Oreos involved tearing them apart with a trunk.

As I recall, the youngest elephant of the bunch.

Classic profile.

A goat showed up, clearly questioning why the gray guys were the most fascinating mammals.

That's one skeptical goat.


Up close and personal.

Emily: also clearly enjoying the elephants.

Have you ever seen a happier-looking elephant (left)?

I think at this point, Emily became worried that I would exhaust our 4GB memory card before the trip ended.

But they're elephants! Eating! Together!

Time for group shots...

The hair feels more like wire than anything we would call hair.

You saw this one coming.

Will: also clearly intrigued by the wiry hair.

Step one: reach for food...

Step two: cross leg, twist trunk in mouth, and chew.

Just kickin' it, having some rice-in-grass, watchin' the people...

A good illustration of how to cut the grass wrap out of the meal.

One of the older residents.

This was where everyone was hanging out. One of these structures needs a little help.

The more dangerous ones get chained up at night, but everyone gets to take hours-long walks each day with a bunch of caretakers.

This picture is clearly destined for a Fox promotion...

When elephants attack... their food!

This little guy was reaching as far as he could to steal leftovers from his mom's pile.

Not an elephant.

Sun sets on the Elephant Breeding Center.

Chickens are pretty much the same everywhere.

No shortage of cool trees.

The ultimate water buffalo.

Locals carrying plants while others cross the river.

Almost camouflaged.

The herd crosses the river.

Will gets a closer look.

Emily prepares for the bike ride back.

We had a fabulous dinner at a very cold outdoor raised platform restaurant. It was one of my favorite meals of the trip.

Nearly all photos taken by Storey Clayton or Emily Clayton. All photos © 2008, Storey & Emily Clayton. All rights reserved.

[Day Eighteen - 10 February 2008]
[Day Seventeen - 9 February 2008]
[Day Sixteen - 8 February 2008]
[Day Fifteen - 7 February 2008]
[Day Fourteen - 6 February 2008]
[Day Thirteen - 5 February 2008]
[Day Twelve - 4 February 2008]
[Day Eleven - 3 February 2008]
[Day Ten - 2 February 2008]
[Day Nine - 1 February 2008]
[Day Eight - 31 January 2008]
[Day Seven - 30 January 2008]
[Day Six - 29 January 2008]
[Day Five - 28 January 2008]
[Day Four - 27 January 2008]
[Day Three - 26 January 2008]
[Day Two - 25 January 2008]
[Day One - 24 January 2008]